James Smail 1813-1860

Image shows Darling Harbour from Pyrmont in 1870 – click image to see original source and further information (NSW State Archives and Records)

3rd Great grandfather – Maternal mother’s line of Randall Family

James Smail, a native of Selkirk, Scotland, died at his residence in Sussex Street, Sydney, New South Wales on 15 March 1860, when he was 47 years old. The Officers and Brethren of Masonic Lodge 548 assembled at their Lodge Room three days later and together with various Lodges, under the English, Irish and Scotch Constitutions attended the funeral of their deceased Brother James Smail. The Funeral moved from the Robert Burns Hotel, Sussex Street at 2 p.m.

Place holder for birth details.

When James Smail was born on 21 August 1813, in Stow, Midlothian, Scotland, his father, Robert Smail, was 26 and his mother, Isabel Murray, was 24. James was the second child; his sister Helen was one year older, and his younger siblings Alexander, Janet, Isabella, Robert and John were born between 1816 and 1826. His father Robert married a second time to Elizabeth Keddie in 1832. Thus, James also had four half siblings born between 1831 and 1836.

Half fan chart showing the ancestors of James Smail
Place holder for marriage details.

James Smail married Jessie Cumming on 18 January 1833, in Selkirk, Scotland. They had four children within 10 years:

Half fan chart showing the descendants of James Smail

James Smail, baker and his wife Jessie, together with their 6-year-old daughter, Janet and their 4-year-old son, Robert, had left Liverpool, England on 18 January 1839 and sailed aboard the bounty ship “Formosa” to Botany Bay. They arrived in Australia on 20 May 1839. The bounty paid by the colony was £18 each for adults and £5 each for children, a total of £46.

Soon after his arrival to Sydney in 1839, James Smail worked as a baker at Millers Point, New South Wales. Within three years, in 1842, James and his family had moved to Kent Street, Sydney, New South Wales.

Our direct descendant Isabella Smail was born on 25 December 1843, in Sydney, New South Wales.

James Smail owned and lived on his properties at the corner of Bathurst and Sussex Streets, Sydney, New South Wales, from 1848-1859. The main part of the property was the Robert Burns Hotel and its adjacent bakery. James was Publican of the hotel and prospered from the nearby whaling industry.

The products of the early whaling industry were vital for the new colonies in Australia that relied heavily on whale products for survival and for export. Visiting deep-sea whalers also paid or traded to be resupplied. At one time thirty-nine local whaling ships were registered in Sydney, and they employed 835 men. The Robert Burns Hotel was located close to the present Darling Harbour.

Site of the Robert Burns Hotel in 1909 and now

Robert Burns Hotel as it appeared before demolition in 1909 and the current building on the same site.

The above photograph of the Robert Burns Hotel, Bathurst & Sussex Streets, c1909-13 is © City of Sydney. It is available from City of Sydney Archives. [File 000/000707. Record series NSCA CRS 51, Demolition books, 1900-1949. Citation NSCA CRS 51/482.]

Place holder for death details.

James Smail aged 47 years, died on 15 March 1860, at the Robert Burns Hotel. He was buried on the afternoon of Sunday, 18 March 1860.

Reviewed and updated on 2 September 2022

One comment on “James Smail 1813-1860
  1. John Smail says:

    Hello, I have only just recently become aware of your website, which is most impressive and comprehensive. I thought you might like to know that I am a direct descendant of Robert Smail and Isabel Murray, your own g-g-g grandparents, and mine. As you know, and is confirmed on your website, they had seven children, one of whom was James (their second child), your own g-g grandfather, and a younger brother John (their seventh child), who was my own g-g grandfather. It was my g-g grandfather who continued to operate the corn mill in Galashiels in the 1850s and 1860s. I could send you further information about John Smail’s descendants if of any interest to you.